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Sitting on the ground floor of the Upton apartment building on Des Voeux Road West, Rhoda boasts buzzing street views and also an expansive space – the latter a rarity in Hong Kong. Designed by Joyce Wang, one is struck by the arresting aesthetic of the industrial, blending the raw with refined, which is carried through every element of the restaurant.
An animated open kitchen sees kitchen staff weave through seamlessly amidst a dizzying flurry of flames, smoke and steam. Seating choices are a definite plus, with options ranging from bar, table, family-style communal table and high kitchen counter. We arrive early to enjoy a drink by the bar looking onto the street – Rhoda is the sort of place you want to spend time and move around in to soak up the atmosphere and design. Music is a fun blast from the past – with songs by Blur and Pulp inducing smiles on the faces of anyone vintage enough to recall.
The menu is divided into sections including: snacks, cold, grilled and shared – it’s geared towards larger groups who can order a wide selection to sample. We begin the evening with some dense Suntory dark ale bread and seaweed butter. There are smoky elements in both and it’s terribly moreish. The Hokkaido scallops are fresh and sweet, sliced into discs on which grapefruit, basil and pickled ginger sit atop, giving the scallops some contrast in flavour and texture.
The tartare of Wild Hereford bavette is an excellent take of this classic dish – even more enticing once the luscious egg yolk puree is mixed in. Though a touch on the salty side for me, it is perfect for my dining partner – regardless, it is wolfed down by both in seconds. We are recommended the charred corn with clams, which is nestled under a delightfully wobbly slow cooked egg and a thick bed of katsuobushi. All elements work well with each other, though the salinity of the clams is a bit lost in the theatrics of the smoky corn and bonito.
We see the table next to us receive their baked red snapper with much glee, and as such, feel we cannot miss out. To be shared between two, it arrives steaming, swaddled in a thick sheet of kombu and needs nothing more than a squeeze of lemon and tangy oregano dressing. The freshness of the fish and execution is faultless, with the main ingredient speaking for itself here.
Dessert was a mixed bag – the vanilla cheesecake is simple, smooth and creamy like a pudding, and the tartness of the raspberry and rhubarb is welcomed. The chocolate, mint and marshmallow on the other hand, is not up our alley, unfortunately. Even for a duo naturally drawn to controversial unions, the surprise element of grassy pea in the mint puree is overwhelming.
The wine list is geographically broad, with lengthy descriptions to aid in your choice. The Picpoul de Pinet, available by the glass or bottle, is a perfect accompaniment to seafood dishes, with its crisp, citrus notes and curious saline undertone. An extensive whiskey list is also available and barmen are on hand to whip up classic cocktails.
It’s service with a smile here, and we are tended to promptly every step of the way. You can trust the staff’s recommendations, as it’s clear they have personally sampled each dish on the menu – another rarity in Hong Kong.
A meal for two with a glass of wine each will come to about HK$1,400, which is great value considering food, service and atmosphere.